What is mindful drinking? The 7 Habits
What is mindful drinking?
Mindfulness = attention + intention
What is mindful drinking? At its heart, mindfulness is incredibly simple.
Mindfulness is about paying attention. So many of us go through life never really noticing how we feel, what’s going on in our heads, or how we respond to the world around us. Mindfulness is simply about paying attention these things, treating ourselves kindly and finding a sense of calm that comes from taking a non-judgemental attitude to ourselves. It’s about becoming who we are.
Mindfulness is also about living with intention. Sometimes it feels like life is happening to us, and we can find ourselves struggling to deal with it. But as we notice what’s going on inside us and how we react to other people, we can begin to change. We start to live deliberately. We might realise that we can’t change everything, but we can learn to accept what we have to live with, and maybe even become grateful for it.
Paying attention to drinking
Becoming a mindful drinker starts with paying attention. You can start by noticing where and when you drink, and who you drink with, even if you drink alone. Do you drink more than you want to in certain places, at specific times or around particular people?
You can also start to notice how drinking makes you feel, and how you use to relate to the world around you. Does drinking make it easier to cope? Is it how you feel confident in your social life? Does it help you relax? Paying attention to these things helps you understand the part that alcohol plays in your life.
Paying attention can also help you understand why you want to change. How does drinking affect your relationships and your family? What kind of impact is it having on your work? Or on your health? Noticing what’s going on helps you discover why you want to change. It’s often so much more than wanting to avoid a hangover.
Living with intention
Your reasons for changing your drinking are the seeds of the life you imagine.
For most of us, it’s not just that we want to change our drinking. We want to feel better about ourselves too. Our reasons for wanting to change are as diverse as we are, but it’s rare that changing our drinking is just about drinking. What kind of life would you imagine for yourself?
If you’ve got a sense of the life you imagine yourself living, you can decide the part you want alcohol to play in it. There are Club Soda members who moderate in some way – by cutting down, having alcohol-free days and swapping drinks – as well as those who are alcohol-free. There are also Club Soda members who change their minds as they learn more about themselves. You’ll find out what works for you.
We won’t ever tell you how drinking should fit into your life. It’s your life after all! Club Soda will support you whatever you choose, and however you want to change your drinking.
And all the things you noticed – like where and when you were drinking, and who with – become are the building blocks of your plans to change your drinking. You can learn to put alcohol in its proper place and live the life you imagine.
Mindful drinking really is as simple (and as complicated!) as paying attention and living with intention.
Want to become a mindful drinker? Club Soda can help.
What is mindful drinking? The next steps
If you want to change your drinking by becoming a mindful drinker, why not:
- Take one of our courses: the free introductory How to Change Your Drinking, or our longer programmes How to Drink Mindfully and How to Stop Drinking
- Sign up to our mailing list to get our top tips and latest news
- Order our book How to Be a Mindful Drinker
Remember this – drinking alcohol is not compulsory.
Being mindful about your drinking is all about deciding what is right for you today. You are in control.
The seven habits of mindful drinkers
We think mindful drinking involves a few habits or behaviours that will help you achieve your goals, and stick to your resolutions.
1. Plan ahead
Just winging it and mindfulness don’t go so well together. So take your time and plan, plan, plan. Look for pubs and bars with great low and no alcohol drinks, so that you can choose to drink or not to drink. Tweet or call the venues in advance and ask about their choice, or find a new local that cares about you and what you want to drink.
2. Don’t panic at the bar
“Erm, erm, erm! White wine!” Stay strong at the bar. Don’t let a flash of indecision make you fall back on ‘the usual’. Take your time. Stay mindful. Chat to the bar staff about what you want to drink, and what they have on offer. Many of them will love the challenge of whipping you up a mocktail.
There are plenty of people who never drink and who are cutting down (one in five people, actually). So you can take a few minutes to decide on your order.
3. Fake it if you have to
Sometimes you just don’t want another boring conversation about why you are not having a ‘proper’ drink. So fly below the radar. Here are three sneaky tips:
- Arrange a ‘usual’ with the bar staff. They love helping you fake a Gin and Tonic (aka a Tonic & Tonic, or T&T) or putting a fizzy elderflower in a dressed up champagne glass.
- The never-ending shandy. Start with the lowest alcohol beer you can find, and just keep topping it up with lemonade or soda at each round.
- Pimp your water. Not sure if the pub you’re going to has something you like? Smuggle in a bottle of your favourite cordial and pimp your fizzy water all night
4. Assess your mood before acting
Drinking when you’re happy can be great. But drinking when you’re lonely, tired and emotional? You know how that ends, probably not a good idea… Rather than add a hangover to your problems, face them head on. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Think ‘HALT’: am I Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? or Thirsty? If you are any of these things, do something about that first, rather than try to hide it with a drink. Listen to what your body really needs.
5. Stick to your guns
Make your decision, put it into words, and practice saying it out loud. For example: “I have decided not to drink tonight, as I’m saving myself for the weekend.”
If your friends try to bully you into drinking, shift the spotlight onto them. Ask them something. How was their day? What’s the best cat meme they’ve seen on Facebook? Just move the discussion away from your drinking choices and onto something else.
Remember, you don’t need anyone’s permission to make a decision that is right for you. No one has the right to persuade you otherwise.
6. There’s safety in numbers
Everyone else is drinking, right? Well, not really. When you start to look around, you realise just how many people aren’t actually drinking. Your pregnant friend, your friend on a health kick, your Muslim friend, and even your friend who just had too much last night and is nursing a wicked hangover. Seek them out, and go out together. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a crowd of people drinking alcohol, a crowd of your own can really help.
7. Be an active customer
If we want our pubs to stay on the high street, we need to stay friends with them. We want them to stock a great tipple; they want to know what drinks will keep you coming back. So ask them to stock your favourite non-alcoholic beers or craft sodas. Before they know it, those non-alcoholic drinks will be flying off the shelves.